While the US is in the grip of a second Polar Vortex, California has been denied the precipitation that usually falls in winter. With almost 90 percent of California in severe or extreme drought, water is in very short supply in the state. Water is at its lowest water levels in the state’s 153 year history. Ranchers are selling their herds and farmers are letting their fields lie fallow. The consequences of the drought extend well beyond cattle and agriculture, impacting the state’s economy and the environment.
Governor Jerry Brown of California declared a drought emergency as the state deals with its lowest water levels in its 153-year history. Although the Democratic governor of California, has a history of environmental advocacy including support for clean energy and carbon trading, he has also softened his stance on fracking, which is a tragic waste of water resources. (fracking uses between 2 and 10 million gallons of fresh water per well in its lifetime).
Last year saw the lowest levels of precipitation ever recorded in the state. The depressing record breaking drought in 2013 is expected to be eclipsed in 2014. The melting of the Sierra Nevada’s winter snow provides much of the water that fills reservoirs downstream. With only 20 percent of normal snowpack, this does not bode well for water supplies in the forthcoming spring and summer.
Californians are encouraged to conserve water. The NRDC has a number of suggestions to reduce water consumption including fixing leaky faucets and toilets, reducing shower times and installing low flow showerheads and faucets, scraping food off of plates rather than rinsing them, using a dishwasher rather than washing by hand and planting a native garden that uses less water.
In addition to conservation, state water officials can enhance efforts in efficiency, recycling, groundwater management, and storm water capture.
Those in California can find out more about the sustainability of their water supply by entering their zip codes here.
11th Session of the UNCCD Conference of Parties to Combat Desertification
Global Extreme Weather in 2013
Makower on Sustainability as a Risk Management Tool
Mexico’s Extreme Weather and Drought
New Report on Extreme Weather Including Drought
CO2 Will Adversely Impact Rainfall Causing Drought and Floods
Biblical Colorado Flooding Follows Years of Drought
Infographic – Warming Temperatures and Extreme Weather
Reducing Water Use in the United States
NASA Imagery Shows Trees are Dying due to Years of Drought
Video – US Climate Change Policy: Hurricane Sandy, Drought and Rising Sea Levels
World Day to Combat Desertification 2010
Breaking the Cycle of Famine
2012: A Year Marked by Heat and Drought
Heat in the US Northeast and Drought Around the World
Strong Body of Evidence for a Warming Climate
Interactive Map Reveals Warmer Spring
Temperature Data: 1880 – 2011 (Video)
Bill McKibben: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math
The Effects of Global Warming
Top Four Climate Studies of 2011
State of the Climate Global Analysis Nov 2011
The Effects of Global Warming
Extreme Weather and the Costs of Climate Change
The Costs of Global Warming
Science and Pernicious Ignorance of Climate Change Denial
Bill McKibben on Connect the Dots Events
McKibben Attributes Extreme Weather Events to Climate Change